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Saturday, June 18

out of control and right on schedule

Transcript: The News Hour/PBS June 17, 2005

SEN. DICK DURBIN: Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

"On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for eighteen to twenty-four hours or more."

If I read this to you and didn't tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have happened by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime, Pol Pot or others, that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that's not the case. This was the action of Americans in treatment of their own prisoners.


(The Senator Warner jumps up and criticizes Durbin and of course effectively deflects attention from what Durbin is saying--that Americans are acting un-American--and starts wailing about Nazis and Commies.)


SEN. DICK DURBIN: To suggest that I am criticizing American servicemen, I am not. I don't know who was responsible for this. But the FBI agent made this report. And to suggest that I was attributing all the sins and all the horror and barbarism of Nazi Germany or Soviet Republic or Pol Pot to Americans is totally unfair.

I was attributing this form of interrogation to repressive regimes such as those that I noted. And I honestly believe the senator from Virginia, whom I respect very, very much, would have to say if this indeed occurred, it does not represent American values. It doesn't represent what our country stands for.

(Mark Shields is a former Marine. Currently, he is an amazing journalist.)

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think in this case they were both right. I mean, I think John Warner was right when he said these are buzz words. I mean, when George Bush the first said Saddam is Hitler before the war in 1991, it was just over the top. This is very -- this is over the top when you use the same word.

The fact that this was not some undependable detainee who made this allegation, it was an FBI agent, you know, should have been enough to stand on its own and I think Dick Durbin, upon reflection, would say that. But what is I think overlooked Margaret is Guantanamo was established for one reason and that was to reach -- to put those prisoners beyond the reach of American law. That's exactly it. I mean, that was the only reason Guantanamo was chosen. And the Supreme Court of nine constructionists -- strict constructionist, let it be noted -


MARK SHIELDS: It is -- this is under the constitution. Ever since then, in total defiance of that court decision, they have stonewalled the Supreme Court, that decision. And I think there's no question that this was established and it's hurt the United States. We've lost the moral high ground and it just is not working for us.


This man [Senator David Durbin] is simply a piece of excrement, a piece of waste that needs to be scraped off the sidewalk and eliminated.

-- KVI's John Carlson, discussing Sen. Dick Durbin, on his Seattle-based talk show Thursday. (From David Neiwert's blog Orcinus)

That's it. That tears it. We as a nation are in serious trouble. We are talking about another human being who has criticized the treatment by Americans of other human beings as excrement to be scraped off and eliminated. We are headed into 1963 and 1968 and 1938.

People of conscience are being called filth. Do you understand what is next? People are going to be arrested, politicians are in danger, and protesters are in danger. Violence is being incited. And I wish I could call it irresponsible, but it is calculated. This hate is going to get out of control and with support for the war declining these fascists are going to get more desperate. They speak in a kind of code to which the seriously disturbed are attuned. And the really ill think that it is a call to action.

There are two points here that must be made:

So Durbin used those words, "Gulag" and "Nazi", and once you say those words, no one hears anything else you say. Why? Because they can't understand the real horror of those abstract words. So those words are useless. Remember what Fran Liebowitz has written. She said or words to the effect that few things really compare to each other. It is futile to say who has suffered more the slaves or the Holocaust survivors. Why compare? Things simply are what they are. The useful rhetoric is, "Americans are being inhumane. We are not acting like Americans are supposed to act."

Second, people who believe that inhumane treatment is not acceptable--i.e. America, love our soldiers or get wiped off the pavement like the excrement you are--is a real punch on the E-ticket to Hell for any person of conscience in the U.S.

I don't expect riots and marches unless there is a draft and surely the neocons have learned something from Vietnam. If you start drafting white, middle class kids off college campuses and right out of high school, then the middle class gets very, very angry. If you draft articulate people, you get articulate protests. No draft, no middle class chaos. No chaos at home means winning elections. And Iraq like Vietnam is not about anything other than controlling the domestic agenda.

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